The role of the family within our society has always been hard to explain. Functionalist theorists like George Murdock (1949) and Talcott Parsons (1959) considers the family a mechanism' that exists to complement societal needs for new generations with identical norms and values. Marxists like Engels and Zeretsky have a narrower viewpoint on the family in terms of societal use. They consider the family to be a more oppressive force that teaches the young about to the "harsh truth of capitalism" (Hutton, W 1997), and creates generations of single track minded individuals who obey without question. Feminists take a more diverse approach that varies from Liberal feminists like Jenny Somerville (2000) who support the march of progress views of Young and Willmot (1973). At the same time Marxists like Frann Ansley (1972) claims that the family is merely a tool of reproduction for the capitalist system and Germaine Greer (2000) a well known Radical Feminist claims that men have corrupted the true purpose of the family and that women should develop an alternative form of family away from the male egocentric society.
Functionalist believe that family as an institution has 4 main functions that benefit society e.g. Sexual, reproductive, economic and educational. This view is strongly supported by George Murdock (1949) in his study of 250 societies which was the origin of the theory that the family structure is culturally universal (www.education-portal.com). Talcott Parsons (1959) however states that there are in fact only 2 main functions that the family performs. The first, Primary socialisation of children occurs at the early years of a child's life. During which the family plays a very critica...
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Hutton, W (1997) The State to Come. London: Vintage.
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Frederick Engels Friendrich Engels (1891) The Origin of the Family, Private Property and the State 4th German edition , Translation and introduction by
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Newbold, C., Peace, M., Swain, L., Wright, M. (2008) AQA Sociology AS. Nelson Thornes: CheltenhamWebb, R., Westergaard, H., Trobe, K., Steel, L. (2008) A2 Sociology, Napier Press: Brentwood
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